Keep children safe in your business premises

Hospitality businesses which rely on families as a key part of their trade, such as pubs, restaurants or hotels, will understand the benefit of providing play equipment for the children - happy kids means happy families.

But providing a climbing frame, slide and a couple of swings and letting them get on with it without any further thoughts about ongoing safety measures is a risky approach.

NFU Mutual recently announced that it received an average of 100 insurance claims each year involving injuries to children at commercial properties, including beer garden play areas. And no doubt this is only the tip of the iceberg - for every insurance claim there are probably many more minor incidents which go unreported but which may have a serious impact on a business's reputation. 

Three years of claims data since 2014 has shown the most common injuries sustained by youngsters to be broken bones or cuts from falls, including tumbles from climbing frames, slides, trampolines, bouncy castles, rides and monkey bars.

Other seemingly harmless objects have also been cited in claims, such as poles, goal posts, planters, and even other children, all of which should act as a reminder of the need to remain vigilant in ensuring that their outdoor areas are safe.

Pubs, garden centres, community clubs and more will begin to ramp up the open-air festivities as the weather allows, and with increased numbers of guests to consider, health and safety should be front of mind.

Some businesses may not be as well-equipped in staffing, training or health and safety practices as bigger visitor attractions to ensure the safety of children’s equipment, but steps can be taken to help reduce needless harm. A professional play inspector should carry out full routine inspections and provide their report, but simple steps such as conducting daily maintenance on play areas by checking for foreign objects, damage or vandalism could also save a child from hurting themselves. Recording evidence of checks is also essential for any business to use in the event of a claim against them. Of course, parents also have a duty to keep watch of their children.

It’s not just injuries that businesses should consider but also the potential damage to private property. We’ve even seen cases of boards and gazebo’s taking flight and damaging guests cars, so great care and thought needs to be taken into account when prepping and mitigating risk for any event.

Tips to keep children safe this summer

  • Survey the public areas of the premises with a “child’s eye” and make sure “staff only” areas are secured / well-signposted, winter maintenance tasks are completed or made safe and maintenance equipment put away.
  • Check all public areas for obvious slip or trip hazards, e.g. moss and uneven paving; check any outdoor furniture as it is put out for the season ahead.
  • Check that any safety information signs are still present and clear, e.g. “parents must supervise their children in this area”.
  • Make sure play equipment is properly maintained and inspected – there are professional play inspectors available through the Register of Play Inspectors International.
  • If external providers are being used to help attract families, e.g. inflatable bouncy castle provider, undertake suitable checks to verify their credibility and request copies of relevant documentation, e.g. insurance and play inflatable inspection certificates.
  • Brief the staff on the need to be vigilant for children running around during food and drinks service, to pay particular attention to items which are damaged or faulty and not to be afraid to intervene if a child’s behaviour is either unsafe or spoiling other people’s enjoyment, particularly in play areas.
  • It may be a useful time to check first aid provision within the company both in terms of first aid kits and trained staff.
  • Carefully consider any particular activities being organised for children and families, e.g. outdoor activities, and put sensible precautions in place.